I was out at first light and headed to my local patch to try and find a Jack Snipe. I had been given instructions to where some had been seen but I couldn't locate one. Three Snipe, two Siskin and a Grey Wagtail were my only successes.
I contemplated staying locally, or travelling once again to Beddington, but Dodge had put me off that idea as the wind direction had changed to westerlies and the end result was likely to be disappointing. So instead I went on a tour of Surrey, starting with Barnes and the WWT London Wetland Centre.
Six Bittern had been seen at the Centre yesterday so I was pretty confident I would find at least one. In the end I saw two Bittern, both were quite distant and hard to see in the reeds, but they both ventured out into the sun for a while and so I had reasonable, if not sensational, views. While at Barnes two Cetti's Warbler sang loudly in the reeds, and a Dunlin flew up from the main lake with some Lapwing. A redhead Smew showed well and at least 15 Siskin were feeding in the trees.
|The redhead Smew showed well at Barnes|
After this slight setback I drove to the west side of Surrey and Thursley Common. Target bird here was obviously the Great Grey Shrike, but I was also hoping for Dartford Warbler. Thursley always means a long walk, especially when searching for a lone Great Grey Shrike. The area is big and this Shrike covers much of it, so finding would be a needle-in-a-haystack job.
It took a while but find it I did. Scanning from the tumulus, the Great Grey Shrike was perched in a tree about 400 yards away in Ockley Common, and to get closer meant trudging through very wet and bogey terrain, with loads of standing water.
Eventually I found it again in an area where I had seen Dartford Warbler a few weeks ago. Sadly, no Dartford Warbler this time, but they should be prominent in the spring.
|The Great Grey Shrike at the Ockley Common end of Thursley Common|
|Brambling at Crooksbury Common|
|Barn Owl in the gloom at Papercourt Meadows|
A long and busy day, and I'm completely knackered after walking quite a few miles. It's been another enjoyable one, though. I don't know what's come over me...